Wheat Futures Rise to Multimonth Highs

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Wheat futures hit a four-month high Thursday as traders bet that recent weather troubles would limit this year's crop and ease stockpiles.

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Soft red winter wheat futures rose 2.4% to $4.53 3/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest close since Feb. 15.

With U.S. wheat acreage already at the lowest in years, a poor growing season could tighten supplies this season despite large stockpiles. A drought in hard red spring wheat growing regions of the northern Plains has pushed futures for that wheat class higher on concerns about damage to the crop.

That has helped drag higher other types of wheat such as Chicago soft red winter variety, which has a lower protein content.

Corn and soybean futures recovered from lower prices to close higher. Traders are closely watching weather forecast updates for clues about whether an erratic start to the growing season will continue into the summer and impact crop yields.

Abundant rainfall over the Midwest this weekend is expected to help corn and soybean growth, according to MDA Weather Services, though some longer-term forecasts show a risk of hot and dry weather in July.

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"Traders are not going to focus on a long-term low-confidence forecast when they are bearish," said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at brokerage INTL FCStone in Kansas City, Mo.

Soybean futures were supported by a higher-than-expected oilseed crush rate in May. U.S. processors crushed 149.3 million bushels in May, according to the National Oilseed Processors Association, up from 139.1 million in April but down from last year's rate. Soybean oil stocks also rose to 1.749 billion pounds from 1.725 billion in April.

Macroeconomic influences limited gains, however. Crude-oil futures fell, making them a more competitive alternative to grain- and oilseed-based biofuels, while the dollar rallied after the Federal Reserve announced a decision to raise interest rates on Wednesday. That helped make U.S. agricultural commodities more expensive relative to produce from other countries in the export market.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 15, 2017 15:48 ET (19:48 GMT)